Croque Madame

, from Issue #97. May, 2021
Photography by Josh Griggs.
Croque Madame

One of my all-time favourite indulgent brunches!

Serves: 2


2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons plain flour
1½ cups whole milk
1¼ cups grated parmesan
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
sea salt and ground pepper

4 large slices sourdough or ciabatta
3 tablespoons butter
6 slices good-quality ham off the bone
1 cup Caramelised Onions (see recipe below, optional)
½ cup grated Gruyère cheese
2 fried eggs


SAUCE: Heat the butter in a saucepan over a gentle heat until just melted. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon. Add the milk in three lots, stirring continuously, until well incorporated. Whisk it while cooking until the sauce is thickened and smooth – it should end up being thick and silky.

Add the parmesan, nutmeg and mustard and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper then refrigerate to cool.

Preheat the oven to 200°C regular bake and put an oven tray in to heat.

to assemble: Butter one side of each piece of bread. Lay 2 pieces butter-side down on a piece of baking paper. Spread each piece with 3 tablespoons of béchamel sauce and 3 pieces of ham. Top with the onion (if using) and remaining bread, butter side up. Spread with 3 more tablespoons of sauce each. Sprinkle with Gruyère cheese and pop in the oven until golden and bubbling, for about 15 minutes. Top each sandwich with a fried egg.


It’s a good idea to make a double batch of these and use them on everything from pizzas, on baked potatoes with sour cream, in toasties and omelettes and alongside roasted meats.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
3 large brown onions, sliced 1cm
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons finely chopped thyme
sea salt and ground pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


Heat the oil and butter in a sauté pan and add the onions, garlic and thyme. Season generously and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened.

Add the sugar and vinegar and continue to cook until deeply golden and glossy.